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The Health Department’s offices in Whitehall.

There can only be one answer: The Department of Health doesn’t have a good enough excuse.

If there had been a good reason, we would have heard it; we haven’t.

So there isn’t a good reason.

Has the Health Department been in collusion with the Department for Work and Pensions to hide the threat to people with long-term illnesses and disabilities?

If so, then protestations about multiple causes of suicide are moot.

The facts indicate that a suicide risk exists – and has existed for several years.

In failing to highlight such a risk, it seems to This Writer that the Department of Health has been derelict in its duty. Agreed?

The Department of Health (DH) has refused to say why it failed to warn NHS bodies and other local services that claimants of out-of-work disability benefits are at a hugely-increased risk of attempting to take their own lives.

DH published the latest version of its national suicide prevention strategy in January this year.

The strategy was published four months after NHS Digital produced the results of its Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey (APMS), which showed that more than 43 per cent of claimants of employment and support allowance (ESA) had said (when asked in 2014) that they had attempted suicide at some point in their lives.

But the suicide prevention strategy fails to mention these figures or to highlight ESA claimants as a high-risk group, even though it briefly mentions Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) guidance for dealing with ESA claimants who may be at risk of suicide or self-harm.

This week, a DH spokeswoman refused to explain why the figures were not mentioned in the strategy or why ESA claimants were not highlighted as a group at particularly high risk of suicide.

Instead, she said: “As I know you’ve discussed with the DWP, suicide is a very complex issue, so it would be wrong to link it solely to anyone’s benefit claim.

“There is clear guidance in place for DWP staff members to follow if a claimant expresses a desire to self-harm, to ensure the claimant receives appropriate care and support.

Source: Department of Health silence over failure to highlight ESA suicide risk


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